Where’s the virus when you need it. It saved us for 100 days from a game like this. Yet without a vaccine we ventured North. Without an antidote to our defense we decided to re-start our season. Why or why should we have had to put with this after 3 months of boredom, fear and abysmal racism. And after suffering all that we had to witness this? This is our reward for still being alive? 3 months of watching highlights of prior season (all pre-Emery of course) and realizing that the current set of players would not get into any prior team from 2000 to 2017.
We should have gone the smart way and, like WHU and others, argued for the end of the season and then picked up points by prior games played. As it its, while we’re still at risk to death from the virus we’re also at risk of death by Arsenal. Or, maybe more accurately, Death by Center Half’s.
A strange team selection for sure. But for barely 10 minutes we looked ok, reasonable a blah team. I find it hard to get excited by Willock but it was good to see Saka on the wing and Tierney at full-back. It was, of course, scary to see Mustafa starting. And a spine built around Mustafa, Guendouzi and Eddie does not inspire confidence. But Mari looked competent for a full 10 minutes. And then all that training started to pay off. First with Xhaka being injured by our own player and then Mari pulling up lame. And just as you thought how lucky we are that there are 5 substitutes, we failed to notice that one of them was David Luiz.
Luiz will be pillared for this. Though on the bright side he’s suspended for 3 games so we have a chance to pick up some points. We defended resolutely for the entirety of that first half. We were on the verge of going in nill nill after multiple Leno heroics. And then, out of nothing Luiz makes (another) school boy error and we’re one nill down. All that effort and preparation wasted. You could see why Arteta started Mari. This was strictly amateur hour. Once you let in one away to this lot you’re royally fucked – a Prince Andrew cluster-fuck.
But we had half-time to regroup and see how we could muster a shot on target. We had 20 minutes to figure out a new game-plan. Could we find a way to get the ball to Wilock. Would Aubameyang touch the ball? Instead we had Anthony Taylor award a penalty and send off our best player. Throughout, the game I thought Taylor was shit. Missing fouls on Eddie and the use of high boots. But you can never convince me this was a red card sending off offense. If this had happened anywhere else on the field it would have barely been a yellow card. Was he denying a goal scoring opportunity; barely. And they had a penalty. It seems absurd to send the player off as well. Mind you, when it’s Luiz, maybe that’s no bad thing.
So a game that was ruined in the 44th minutes become a joke once they went 2-0. It was just a case of getting through the game without have an embarrassing scoreline. Interesting, once we made the final set of substitutes we started passing the ball a little faster. But once they went down to 10 men with 10 minutes left, rather than step up and put pressure on them we then allowed them to score – care of our other center half. Mustafa find away to fall over before they hit the post and scored on the rebound.
What did we learn from this? That we have no viable center-halfs? I’m not sure that’s news. But I think we also saw that Wilock, while very young, would not get into another EPL team. That Aubameyang was totally wasted. And that this team is beyond fragile. I can’t point the finger at Arteta. This was down to simple, school boy mistakes by our most experienced players. Both center halfs have played in the latter stages of World Cups and now they should be in our U-18 teams. I don’t believe we cause their GK to make a single save. We created absolutely nothing. With 10 men that’s somewhat understandable but for the entire first half that’s not reasonable. And then when they had 10 men we let another goal in – ok, we might have been more tired but overall we were non existent today.
It’s hard to think of any rays of sunlight. Leno was excellent. Tierney did not get injured. Saka looked threatening. Bellerin looked OK. But overall, our entire possession was too slow. We rarely played through their lines. And too often our players did not make angels to receive the ball from Mari and the other morons in the middle of our defense.
Where do we go from here? Fuck knows. Arteta has so much work to do with a set of players that have no clear identity. I know, this was only one game and no-one would have expected us to get points against Man City. But it’s the way we did not turn up. The way we capitulated. The way, after 100 days, it felt like we’d lost all the positive momentum we gained from the last game against WHU. And why? Because Luiz was on the pitch and was his careless self. Chelski fans must have been laughing out loud. As good as he has been for us most of the season this was quintessential Luiz. Unreliable and careless. And that’s not what you expect from your most experienced defender. It reminded be of his colleague and prior inhabitants like Silverstri, Squiglai and Cygan.
Wave goodbye to the Champions League and wave goodbye to NoHopa League. We’ll need to sell Aubameyang and re0invest that money. This is a total rebuild job. I still believe Arteta is the right man for the job. He set the team out right today. The curse of injuries ruined that game plan. AFC will be distraught after waiting 100 days for that. Knives will be out for Luiz. But that should not obscure the amount of issues this team faces. Losing Xhaka and Mari will prove way most costly than losing 3 points today. We don’t have the personel. We miss Torreira and we now face having to recover before Saturday. There will be pressure on Arteta now. And there should be on the players. They have to demonstrate they were listening to him and learned something over the last 100 days. Losing to ManCity is one thing but playing as weakly and spinelessly against Brighton is another thing entirely. But hopefully we can mark this one down as the Brazilian Wax job care of Luiz.